Some background to the illegal attempts to hijack democracy in Oro Province and forcefully remove Governor Gary Juffa
The truth of the matter is that Gary Juffa has a solid, unshakable standing in the eyes of the local and international community. He served a distinguished career in various capacities in government including a long stint as the no nonsense head of PNG Customs who impounded illegal weapons and contraband and facilitated the jailing of Asians who entered the country illegally.
David Arore served a less than distinguished career as a high school teacher, paid off by the Somare government to join his party after the elections. Little is known about Arore apart from his drunkenness in Popondetta town and his association with criminals and his alleged corruption. Last year he was arrested for bribery but is yet to stand trial. In his arrogance, he failed miserably as Minister for Higher Education and was so much of an embarrassment to the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill that the PM had to have him removed from the portfolio.
Delilah Gore is a virtual unknown who accumulated sympathy votes and won because Sohe could not find a “leader” in her stead in time for the elections. She was as much a failure during the Unitech crisis, labeling the students criminals when they were standing up for their rights. Being so ill-informed and ignorant she said in a public statement that such strikes like that of Unitech had never happened in other universities throughout the world. Her intellectual capacity is highly questionable leading her to be labelled an ‘airhead’. Yet she claims credit for “ending the strike” when the hard yards were actually done by Ministers Kerenga Kua, Robert Atiyafa, Ben Micah and Richard Maru. Delilah Gore came under a tidal wave of public criticism when she made headlines in one of the daily papers after she refused to switch off her mobile phone during an Air Niugini commercial flight from Popondetta Gore is a sad failure both as Minister and MP.
Garry Juffa has fought the logging companies responsible for the decimation of lives in the Musa-Pongani area. As he fought the battle alone, Gore and Arore plotted in the secrecy and comfort of the Grand Papua hotel in Port Moresby so far removed from reality in Popondetta.
Delilah Gore is nothing more than a scheming witch who used K17,000 of ministerial funds to pay for allowances and accommodation of local level government presidents who plotted the removal of a legitimate governor. In her stupidity, she also paid for the notorious police taskforce of the Southern Command to travel to Popondetta prior to her rent-a-crowd storming the house of assembly building. As for David Arore… well… he goes where the money is. The logging company tells him what to do.
Radio New Zealand
The Governor of Papua New Guinea’s Oro Province Gary Juffa has described as illegal an attempt by members of the Provincial Assembly to oust him.
Reports emerging from PNG late today signalled that members of the assembly tried to force a vote against Mr Juffa and replace him with the MP David Arore.
It comes at a time when Governor Juffa has cracked down on illegal logging in the province and instigated new control measures on expenditure of public funds.
Mr Arore and the other Oro MP, fellow government member Delilah Gore, have sided against Mr Juffa.
However a police complaint has been laid against Mr Arore for allegedly breaking and entering the Office of Governor.
Mr Juffa says Mr Arore cannot simply declare himself Governor through illegal means.
“Because they were notified that the assembly has been postponed; they were also notified that the meeting would be illegal by the relevant authorities. So, having known all this and having all this information, they still went ahead and did these things.”
Gary Juffa says the group who have tried to remove him have been supported by Asian logging entities whose illegal operations in the province he has refused to allow to continue.
Asian loggers in the Oro province have funded a hostile takeover of the Provincial House of Assembly – the symbol of Papua New Guinea’s construction in the province.
In a sad turn of events today, a mob led by the Ijivitari MP, David Arore and Sohe MP, Deliah Gore, broke into the provincial assembly building with a group paid by a Malaysian Chinese logger. The group then proceeded to appoint a new assembly clerk and conduct a vote of no confidence motion against Oro Governor, Gary Juffa.
The move comes after months of high level international publicity over Governor Juffa’s stand against illegal logging in the Musa-Pongani area by a logging company operated by the Malaysian company.
Funding for the vote of no confidence has also come from Sohe MP, Deliah Gore who spent K17,000 of ministerial funds for allowances and accommodation for several LLG presidents to meet in Port Moresby to plot the removal of the governor.
Rimbunan Hijau takeover of PNG almost complete – all funded through illegal logging, land grabbing and other corruption!
Loggers unveil big expansion plans
From Freddy Mou on PNG Loop
Rimbunan Hijau, the giant logging company in PNG, opened its K5 million service station depot at Vision City Shopping mall in Port Moresby today.
Executive director Nathaniel Ho says RH has been in the country for the past 20 years and such investments will help the people of PNG and create more job opportunities for them.
“With the influx of vehicles and traffic delays being experienced at the moment in the city, there is a need for more service stations to eradicate these problems. RH has seen the problem and has assessed how we will be tackling the issues,” he said.
He said RH will also be setting up other depots around the city and make life easier for the people.
Meanwhile, Ho has also announced that RH will be building a similar Vision City in Lae with the project starting early next year.
Other major towns they will be expanding to are Kokopo, Mt Hagen and Madang.
By Lester Seri*
Lester Seri is from Collingwood Bay and is one of many local residents fiercely resisting KLK’s attempted landgrab of the community’s forests.
My name is Lester Seri, and I am a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea. I come from the Wofun Clan, belonging to the Wo Ari Kawo tribe, and I have been mandated by the Wo Ari Kawo Elders to speak on behalf of them on Tribal land matters.
My people – the Maisin people – along with our neighboring communities in Collingwood Bay have been fighting to protect our customary lands from illegal land grabs for logging and palm oil development for nearly three decades. In 2002 we won a four year court battle against the government for illegally leasing our land for logging and palm oil projects without the consent of the customary landowners. Yet, in 2012 this SAME land area was leased again to suspect middlemen landowner companies and ultimately sold to Malaysian palm oil company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK). When I and several other landowners heard that our lands had been leased without our consent again, we took our case to court once more.
In May of this year, the National Court of Papua New Guinea declared the two leases claimed by KLK illegal again and ordered them to be cancelled. While this court victory was important, KLK has not yet left Collingwood Bay and our struggle continues.
KLK was forced to give up two leases on customary lands through the court case, but the company still claims a third lease in Collingwood Bay called Lot 5. In recent communications, KLK has stated that it has no intentions to leave Lot 5, despite the fact that it is within Maisin customary lands and holds primary forest and small patches of ‘kunai grass’ that our people use annually for game hunting.
As a member of the RSPO and through its own voluntary commitments, KLK has also pledged not to clear primary forests, High Conservation Value Forests, or High Carbon Stock forests, so there is absolutely no way KLK can develop palm oil on Lot 5. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for them still to be here, yet they are.
Our people have been fighting companies like KLK for too long, and we are fed up with their attempts to undermine our local economies and culture and rob us of our rich natural resources. Our paramount chiefs have said no to these forms of development, and they have said no to palm oil development in Collingwood Bay.
The forests and cultures of the Collingwood Bay people are at stake if KLK proceeds. We urgently need your voice to send this message to KLK loud and clear: No palm oil development and no KLK in Collingwood Bay!
* Lester Seri is a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay, Papua New Guinea from the Wofun Clan, belonging to the Wo Ari Kawo tribe. He is a Coordinator for Oro Communities Environmental Advocacy Network (OCEAN) Inc., which campaigns against illegal land, logging and oil palm issues and was a Plaintiff in Collingwood Bay communities’ customary land court case. Lester is a graduate of the University of Papua New Guinea and served as a Public Servant with the Department of Environment and Conservation for 17 years. He then became the Executive Director of Conservation Melanesia Inc., an environmental NGO, and also served as a Board member on several organizations such as Melanesian Environment Foundation (MEF) Inc., Eco-Forestry Forum (EFF), Environmental Law Centre (ELC) Inc., Conservation Forum (CF) Inc.
In July Port Moresby’s Paga Hill community won a long legal struggle against the Paga Hill ‘Development’ Company and its Australian CEO ‘Gummi’ Fridriksson.
The Supreme Court ruled that the community resided on reclaimed land outside the state lease which PHDC acquired, allegedly through ‘corrupt dealings’.
The community was saved. Or so it seemed.
While the court case was proceeding, the reclaimed land was registered by the Department of Lands and leased for 99 years to a PHDC subsidiary, Audayap No.5 Limited.
The late Judge Mark Sevua advised the community that this was in contempt of court, a criminal offence. And like so many law abiding citizens the people of Paga have attempted to prosecute this potential breach of the law by a foreigner through the courts.
And yet it is these PNG citizens who have been subject to police violence.
Two weeks ago, the RPNGC demolished homes on the reclaimed land at Paga Hill, destroyed for good the historic Church, and burnt down the local pre-school, all to assist a foreign businessman who has been slammed in 4 Public Accounts Committee reports, 2 Auditor General Reports and 1 Commission of Inquiry.
Shining examples include:
- The Auditor General alleges that K1,966,677 was wrongfully seized from the sale of deceased PNG estates, when Fridriksson’s company CCS Anvil was advising the Public Curators Office (CCS Anvil has acted as PHDC’s ‘project director’). The Auditor General also claims K4,872,375 in ‘unlawful’ payments were made to CCS Anvil by the Public Curators Office.
- According to the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee K79,500 in unlawful payments were made by the East Sepik Provincial government to CCS Anvil
- According to the Public Accounts Committee K375,799 in unlawful payments were made by the Parliamentary Service to CCS Anvil.
- According to evidence given to the judicial inquiry into the Department of Finance, CCS Anvil was paid a K1.4 million fee for allegedly advising a plaintiff to increase their fraudulent claim against the state from K900,000 to K4.4 million, which was illicitly settled by certain state officials out of court.
Why would the police burn, and demolish homes owned by law abiding citizens, on behalf of a foreign individual who has allegedly misappropriated millions from the public purse?
These are worrying times!
By Jeremy Hance, Mongabay
A number of the world’s top conservation scientists have raised concerns about plans for commercial logging on Woodlark Island, a hugely biodiverse rainforest island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The scientists, with the Alliance of Leading Environmental Scientists and Thinkers (ALERT), warn that commercial logging on the island could imperil the island’s stunning local species and its indigenous people.
“Woodlark Island is a biological jewel—home to at least 42 species that occur nowhere else on Earth,” said William Laurance, a professor at James Cook University in Australia and the director of ALERT.
The forty-plus endemic species are found on an island just a little larger than New York City, and include the Woodlark cuscus (Phalanger lullulae), an extravagantly-colored tree-dwelling marsupial that’s listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. In addition, the island is home to at least seven frogs, four reptiles, seven plants, six insects (two which haven’t been described yet), and 19 land snails. Despite so many unique species, conservationists say the island has been little-surveyed and likely contains many more species still unknown to science.
“For nature conservation, a plan this ambitious sets off alarm bells,” said ecologist Stuart Pimm from Duke University. “This island is jam-packed with unique species, many of which have tiny geographic ranges and so are highly vulnerable to major disturbances.”
The island’s many unique species may be due to the fact that it was never a part of the mainland of Papua New Guinea, though it sits less than 200 miles off shore.
Initially, local contacts told mongabay.com that the company involved, Karridale Limited, was pursuing a Timber Authority for 17,600 hectares of the island or about 22 percent of the whole island which covers around 80,000 hectares. But last month one contact warned that the Timber Authority had been extended to cover half the island.
“The information on…Karridale logging is very scarce,” Simon Piyuwes told mongabay.com. Piyuwes is a doctor on the mainland who grew up on Woodlark. He said the current Timber Authority runs from the “Talpos Mountain extending South and North to the coastlines and all the way east.”
Piyuwes added that the Timber Authority is currently in the hands of the Provincial Forest Committee. If the committee approves it, logging can begin.
Still, despite repeated requests by mongabay.com, Karridale Limited has refused to reveal how many hectares they are planning to log.
“We are a very small company [compared] to…big scale logging companies, our operation depends largely at the request on the survival of the people there, such as employment, resource income, also to provide them roads and maintenance,” Danny Chiu the operations manager of Karridale Limited told mongabay.com via email. “So far, the [Timber Authority] has been given to us for four years, till now, we still haven’t actually get into the operation [because] we follow strictly the guidelines given to us by the forestry and the local communities of Woodlark.”
A number of locals have said the company was “Malaysian,” however Chiu has denied this. Karridale Limited has offices in Boroko, a suburb of Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea.
“The company is being elusive about its plans and doesn’t appear to have consulted adequately with the local communities,” said Professor Corey Bradshaw with the University of Adelaide.
Woodlark Island, also known as Muyua Island, is home to about 6,000 indigenous people who have lived off the island’s abundant natural resources for thousands of years. Local contacts say logging plans have been approved by a minority of the population, adding that many didn’t know about the proposed operations.
While Woodlark Islanders have been felling trees for thousands of years, this was always small-scale, subsistence logging. According to satellite data on Global Forest Watch, the islanders have cleared 1,437 hectares from 2000 to 2012, amounting to 1.7 of the island’s whole. During the same time 287 hectares of forest have grown back. With this factored in, the island lost 1.3 percent during the past twelve years. Moreover, the people of Woodlark Island have been fighting for decades for legal control of their land. While most of the forests on mainland Papua New Guinea are customary—i.e. owned by local communities—Woodlark Island remains largely crown land and therefore in the hands of the state.
If Karridale Limited’s logging concession indeed extends across half the island, it may overlap with a gold mining concession held by an Australian company called, Kula Gold. The company’s mining concession covers 45,000 hectares, or more than half the island. The company has spent several years readying operations to mine on the island, including plans to dump the mine’s toxic tailings into the deep sea just off the island.
“This island is biologically and culturally unique, and it’s now in real danger,” added Laurance. “It’s vital that the world watch Woodlark Island very carefully.”